Luke Weaver

Getty Luke Weaver

The July 30 MLB trade deadline is still over two months away, but for teams looking to contend, it’s never too early to start planning moves and acquisitions. After 14 consecutive seasons with an AL Championship, the New York Yankees have big goals for 2024, and any perceived weak spots in their roster are expected to be solidified at the deadline, if not before.

According to The Athletics’ Jim Bowden, the Yankees will likely target relief pitching in the next couple of months.

“The Yankees don’t have any glaring needs but more bullpen depth is always needed, especially in the last two months of the season,” Bowden wrote. “There are several under-the-radar relievers the Yankees could target from non-contending teams including Nationals righties Derek Law (2.76 ERA) and Dylan Floro (0.38 ERA) and Cardinals lefty JoJo Romero (1.42 ERA). But my two favorite targets for them are A’s righties Austin Adams and Lucas Erceg, who have been stellar in set-up roles for closer Mason Miller.”

Two months into the 2024 season, the Yankees are leading the AL East with a record of 35-17, and their closest rival, the Baltimore Orioles, are 3.5 games back at 29-18.


The Yankees’ Bullpen Continues Its Fierce Campaign

As of May 23, the Yankees’ bullpen has a combined ERA of 2.93, ranking them second in MLB only behind the Cleveland Guardians (2.52 ERA). Despite being hit with an unfortunate string on injuries, the Yankees have had fierce relief pitching all season, and with Tommy Kahnle finally being reinstated from the IL and throwing a perfect inning in his season debut, the team’s relief pitching may only just be getting started.

This season, Clay Holmes has posted a 1.74 ERA with a 1.21 WHIP and 23 strikeouts in 20.2 innings on the mound, quickly establishing himself as one of the most effective closers in MLB. He’s recorded the second-most saves in the American League, having closed 13 of 15 opportunities, only behind the Guardians’ Emmanuel Clase (14 saves).

Holmes isn’t the only pitcher in New York’s bullpen having a strong season, either. Luke Weaver has a 2.37 ERA after 30.1 innings, Nick Burdi has a 1.86 ERA after 9.2 innings, and Victor González has a 2.30 ERA after 15.2 innings. While Caleb Ferguson (5.29 ERA) and Dennis Santana (5.03 ERA) have had more command issues than others in the bullpen, even they have been relatively solid.

The return of Kahnle, who started the season on the IL after suffering a shoulder injury, will likely to boost the bullpen’s already-impressive productivity.


Do the Yankees Need Another Reliever? 

Despite the Yankees’ bullpen high performance so far this season, it’s easy to see why the team would want to add depth, especially considering their injury issues.

After three scoreless appearances this season, Jonathan Loáisiga suffered a torn UCL and subsequently underwent Tommy John surgery, ending his 2024 campaign. Scott Effross, who underwent back surgery in December 2023, and Lou Trivino, who underwent UCL surgery in May 2023, are both yet to make their debuts this season, and Kahnle only had his first outing on May 23 after several months on the IL due to a shoulder injury. The Yankees also lost Nick Burdi for a few weeks in April due to right hip inflammation.

And that’s just in the bullpen. The Yankees’ starting rotation has also had its fair share of injuries, including ace Gerrit Cole, who is sidelined with elbow inflammation and edema.

With their eyes set on a deep postseason campaign, acquiring at least one more healthy bullpen arm is likely to be a priority for the Yankees, as Bowden suggested. Whether the team waits for the deadline or moves early on a top reliever is yet to be seen.

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